Former Monarch employee and blind veteran Diane Mountford has praised Monarch for the commitment they have shown to their visually impaired passengers. Diane said “The commitment Monarch have shown toward those with a vision impairment who fly with them is fantastic. I no longer feel an inconvenience when travelling, and I hope others won’t too”.
Diane joined the Women’s Royal Air Force in 1969, which sparked a love affair with air travel to last a lifetime. Diane said “I just loved aeroplanes. I knew that whatever I did, I wanted to work with them”. When Diane’s career in the WRAF ended, she knew that whichever direction her career took it would involve aeroplanes.
After a brief stint at Heathrow, dealing with VIPs in customer services Diane signed up to be part of Monarch’s cabin crew in Luton. On this period, Diane said “I loved my time with Monarch. The whole experience was a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with and to meet some truly lovely people”. During this period, Diane flew on the Bristol Britannia, or as it’s more affectionately known the ‘Whispering Giant’, the world’s first long haul prop-jet airliner. Although predominantly dealing with chartered holidays, she also flew on trooping flights, transporting British troops between the UK and Germany.
In 1996, Diane was diagnosed with Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a disease of the eye that leads to loss of vision and blindness. As a result of her service history Diane was entitled to free lifelong support from national sight loss charity Blind Veterans UK. Since joining the charity (St. Dunstan’s at the time) Diane has become heavily involved with volunteering. Since becoming a Blind Veterans UK volunteer, Diane has donated hundreds of hours travelling, exhibiting and speaking with a variety of groups about the charity, and the services they provide.
Since 2014, Monarch and national sight loss charity Blind Veterans UK have been working in partnership together to ensure that passengers with visual impairments have their needs met and that their journeys are made as comfortable as possible.
Diane became involved with Blind Veterans UK’s partnership with Monarch earlier this year, delivering sighted guided training to Monarch’s cabin crew. Diane said “When I was invited to go along to speak with the cabin crew at Monarch I was absolutely delighted. For me personally, it was fantastic to see that Monarch remains the caring, compassionate and generous airline they always have been.”
For Diane, it’s important that airlines do cater specifically for their passengers with a visual impairment. She said “I’ve been treated poorly in the past by other airlines. Monarch are setting the bar high, and I’m delighted that they are accommodating to the additional needs of passengers so seriously”. Furthermore, Diane hopes that this partnership sets the precedent for further airlines to take action.
Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss. The charity estimates that there are currently 59,000 blind veterans that would be eligible to access its specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting noonealone.org.uk.
Meet Zara, one of the adorable four-legged friends at Blind Veterans UK!